Tensions flare at town hall with Madison County DA, sheriff over officer-involved shooting
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - It was standing room only at a NAACP town hall meeting Monday night with Madison County District Attorney Robert Broussard and Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner. The purpose of the meeting, according to organizers, was to bring leaders and the community together for an intimate conversation surrounding the officer relations with the community.
The meeting came on the heels of a Madison officer-involved shooting Sunday, Oct. 27. Dana Fletcher, 39, was killed by officers in the Planet Fitness parking lot on Highway 72. They say they were forced to fire when Fletcher pointed a gun at them. The Madison County Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation.
Monday, Turner told the crowd the investigation is expected to be complete by the end of the week. “I’m going to tell you that I have seen the tape. I have seen the video," said Turner as he spoke candidly to the crowd. "Whether you want to believe it or you don’t, there was a weapon involved.”
In response the crowd demanded to see the body camera footage.
“The public is not entitled to that evidence at this time," said Broussard. “Even if you have the evidence in the public, what is that going to do? You’re going to prosecute somebody? You don’t have the grand jury! I do.”
Broussard was the first of the two leaders to accept questions. He emphasized that he would not be getting into the specifics of the case during the forum.
Throughout the evening, conversation surrounding race relations kept coming up. Many people said they feared black lives, more specifically the life of Dana Fletcher, would be devalued in the judicial process.
“Y’all can believe it or not. Anything that come to my office, we take it case-by-case," expanded Broussard. If any of y’all think part of what we factor in is the race of that individual, y’all need to vote me out of office." In a piercing unison response, the crowd said they would vote him out of office.
Police say they were pushed to use deadly force because Fletcher pointed a gun at them. However, in a Facebook post, Fletcher’s wife was adamant that he was unarmed.
“As far as the gun, yes there is irrefutable video evidence to show Fletcher had a gun in his hand,” said Chief Deputy Stacy Bates.
At the Monday night’s town hall, the crowd repeatedly asked to view the body camera footage and questioned how encounters like the one officers had with Fletcher can be deescalated before someone is killed.
“When you are dealing with someone that you suspect may have a weapon, it’s all about communication," explained Turner. "I try to train our guys every single day to do what? We’re going to do the right thing, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
The town hall ended early as the two leaders explained they were double booked with engagements.
However, the 45 minutes of back-and-forth that was heated at times, revealed some new details for some and left others feeling empty.
“When you people yelling and bursting out that is pain,"said Lissah Aset. "That’s the pain we’ve dealt with the past few days and we’ve been waiting for these answers.”
Other community leaders with Madison County Commissioner JesHenry Malone also took questions toward the end of the night.
NAACP leadership says they are not opposed to hosting future forums. Right now, none are scheduled.
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